When Amit and I founded Bulb in 2015, less than 1% of the UK population chose renewable energy. We could never have imagined that only five years later that figure would become 10%, and that we’d be expanding to other markets.
This week, we celebrated the launch of Bulb in Spain. It's exciting for us to be branching out and entering international markets - with France and Texas following in time.
Amit and I created Bulb after each spending years in the energy industry. We kept seeing the same problems: inefficiency, poor service, expensive tariffs and dirty energy. So we set out to do things differently, and created Bulb. Our commitment has always been to make energy simpler, cheaper and greener. Our members can switch to Bulb in 2 minutes, with our commitment to a simple, best-suited tariff for everyone – and they can speak to a human when they have a question. We make energy costs cheaper by building proprietary technology that allows us to operate super-efficiently, freeing up our staff to focus on supporting members.
When we first launched in the UK, we saw millions of homes switch from incumbent suppliers to new challengers like Bulb. People are voting with their feet for cleaner, cheaper energy. And the same looks to be true in Spain, where the electricity industry is the second most disliked sector. They have all the same issues the UK had several years ago: high prices, a lack of transparency and bad service. 85% of the Spanish energy market is dominated by the major electricity companies who, having such a high share of the market, have always had the power to set prices.
We want to challenge the market to provide electricity differently. Our investment in technology will enable us to provide the people of Spain with cleaner energy at lower and fairer prices, while being transparent and providing excellent service to boot. We hope our sustainable business model will change the rules of the game in the sector, with our smart tariff allowing users not only to save money, but also to control and understand their consumption and the electricity bill, while reducing their emissions.
And that emissions part is particularly important. Spain has twice the hours of sunlight of the UK, giving it huge potential for solar energy, yet produces 30% less solar energy than we do. As a whole, renewable energies represent just 38% of energy generation in Spain.
We hope that our arrival in Spain will encourage people to buy renewable energy from the grid, and to consider installing solar panels themselves. When we started in the UK, renewable energy generation wasn’t a priority either - but as households demand greener energy, supply needs to increase to meet the demand.
We’ll be able to contribute to the development of small rural renewable generators by sourcing our energy directly from them. We’ll continue to focus on solar, wind and hydro, just like we do in the UK. It’s a common misconception that clean fuels are more expensive than fossil fuels, but in reality, the reverse is true. Building a new solar or onshore wind farm is cheaper than building a gas power station. In fact, since the 1980s, panels to generate electricity from sunshine have been getting cheaper by 10% each year. The average home in Spain will save 100-150 euros by signing up with us - as well as cutting their carbon emissions by 906kg a year, the equivalent to the amount absorbed by 314 trees.
In the next few months, we’re hoping to launch in both France and Texas. These markets are all similar to the UK’s a few years ago, with energy incumbents monopolising the market, charging high prices for dirty energy and providing poor customer service. We’ve been encouraged by customers in European and North American markets and we wanted to offer a greener energy solution to international consumers.
Being carbon neutral for us has never been just about doing the right thing by our employees, members and communities - it makes business sense, too. The UK is a case study for green growth, having grown the economy by 73% while cutting carbon emissions by 43% since 1990. As more people become concerned about climate change, so too do businesses. Research by the UK Government shows that over three quarters of British individuals are either concerned or very concerned about climate change, while research company Morningstar has found that sustainable and environmental focused investments are outperforming and outlasting traditional funds. This isn’t unique to the UK: last year Spanish citizens voted that climate change represents their most serious international threat, as did 59% of the US and 83% of French citizens.
With such a booming industry in this already, the UK is in prime place to seize this opportunity and lead on a green recovery that will act as a role model for the rest of the world. Our leadership, technology and innovation can extend far beyond our borders – and businesses like ours at Bulb can lead that change.